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                   Review: LightSpeed: A Video Magazine
  Bohus Blahut                             bohuslav.blahut@mail.colum.edu
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    As NewTek's Lightwave 3D program gains increased visibility through
television and film, it also gains a greater audience outside the Amiga
community.  NewTek has ported LW to the PC, and soon to the SGI.  Before
the LW standalone program, many Toaster sales were to 3D artists who viewed
the Video hardware as an expensive dongle for the powerful LightWave 3D.
As always in the Amiga community, the entrepeneur spirit stirred users to
create auxilliary programs and information sources all devoted to this one
program.

    By opening LW to the huge PC market, we are already seeing an increase
in the development outside the walls of NewTek's Alcatraz.  Once you take into
account both commercial development, and the public domain, the sheer volume of
work that has come out in the last year is staggering.  There is also a new
batch of Lightwave users.  How is the 3D artist going to stay informed about new
products and new techniques in the LW world?

    There are several monthly publications that deal with LW, also several
tutorial videos to get you started with the software, but then where do you
go?  This is where the ambitious LightSpeed Video Magazine comes in.
LightSpeed is a monthly video costing $12.95.  I use the word "ambitious"
because it's quite some undertaking to create an all-new two hour video
every month.  In the October issue, the video featured several LW
tutorials, a video taken at SigGraph, a demo video of the commercial
product Impact!, a review/demonstration of Questar's World Construction
Set, and animationr's demo reels.  Also available are companion LightSpeed
floppy disks.  These feature the scene and object files from the current
video.  The flopies are PC formatted, but this should serve no problem to
Amiga 2.0 users who are using CrossDOS.  Some of the filenames were a
little strange looking on my system, but there are utilites available to
ready PC files for Amiga use and vice versa. 

    LightSpeed's approach to producing material is to allow subscribers to
shoot and edit video segments in their own studios, and submit them to the
magazine.  The overall video quality of the individual segments is good,
although I wish that producers would spice up their presentation.  As a
teacher, I know how important it is to keep the interest level up while
teaching.  The tutorials in the October issue target the
beginner/intermediate animator.   Manuel Cotes, creator of LightSpeed,
assures me that future volumes will feature more advanced topics and
projects.  Particularly valuable in this volume is the "Animation Showcase"
It's always good for animators of any skill level to see the work of other
animators especially when we are all working with the same software.  Also
on this tape, I was glad to see not only the demo tape of World
Construction Set (A fractal landscape generator that produces realistic
looking images), but an actual user putting the software through its paces.

    One of the best tutorials on the tape is Kyle Thatch's "It's only 3D"
segment.  Thatch's segment is an intro to scale modeling in LW.  His
delivery is casual yet succinct, and peppered with humor.  His modeling
project takes users through steps to create a Lego brick.  Thatch chooses
the brick because it's got good basic geometry, and "you're likely to find
one buried in your couch." Future LightSpeed producers should look to this
as a template of effective tutoring.

    I would recommend that LW users look into LightSpeed.  It's less
expensive than other tutorial tapes, and since it's monthly it can keep up
with changes in the software.  It's also a unique opportunity to help
forward the desktop video revolution.  Manuel Cotes' assembly of the
segments (with 3D animated bumpers, I might add) of independently produced
video is what DTV is all about.  You can purchase individual issues of
LightSpeed and the companion disks at many dealers, or subscribe annually.

Contact LightSpeed

    orders: 1.800.764.8696 
    info:   1.805.726.3546
    fax:    1.805.726.3544